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TP52 boost for Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme

Friday, 14 March 2008
RYA Press Release

The esteemed Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme has taken another massive step in establishing itself as Great Britain’s leading big boat training initiative by acquiring the TP52 Red for the 2008 season.

And Programme sailors do not have to wait much longer before they give the celebrated John Merricks Sailing Trust-loaned 52-footer her eagerly-awaited first competitive outing under the Volvo RYA Keelboat banner with Red set to be unveiled at the Red Funnel Easter Regatta next weekend (21 – 23 March).

Since 2005, the Programme has enjoyed the use of the Farr45 John Merricks for training and competition purposes and during this time Programme members have successfully organised and completed Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland, Rolex Fastnet and Round the Island race campaigns on board John Merricks.

But following the handover of Red to the Programme late last year, and a vigorous winter of training and maintenance activity by the squad members to get the boat ready for the new season, the TP52 is now ready to help take the Programme, and the subsequent opportunities and incentives for the sailors, to the next level.

David Atkinson, RYA Racing Services Manager, said: “The Farr45 enabled us to get guys sailing at high level in a very competitive fleet. The opportunities that having John Merricks offered allowed the Programme to become bigger and better as the sailors were exposed to bigger and better sail training and racing experiences. The TP52 will enable us to move the Programme forward in a similar way again.

“The squad will now have a whole new series of training and racing challenges to look forward to, inevitability enhancing their skills and capabilities as sailors but also extending the range of sailing opportunities outside of the Programme that they will have as a result of their involvement in TP52 campaigns.

“The Programme’s ethos is to produce top class big boat sailors to compete in the World’s most prestigious and celebrated keelboat, offshore and ocean racing events. We want the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme to be increasingly recognised as a mark of excellence and that Programme graduates possess the necessary skills, experience and enthusiasm required to excel in the World’s biggest races.”

Launched in 2003, the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme aims to provide the opportunity for talented young sailors aged between 16 and 24 to break into the highly-competitive world of keelboat sailing. There are 47 sailors in the three 2007-08 Programme squads - National, Southern and Northern.

As the RYA does not directly fund the upkeep of Red, the onus is on the sailors to generate enough income from organising and crewing charters to maintain and sail the boat year-on-year. The intensive and high-level training they have undergone, and will continually undertake, means they are fully-equipped to crew Red for all charters whether event, race, corporate or personal.

Nominated boat captain and Southern Squad member, Ben Pym, 19, added: “The TP52 is simply awesome. For 52ft it is incredible how responsive she is, and how easily you can achieve double speed figures. We have a long way to go before we will be highly-competitive but we will learn a lot getting there and have fun doing so. This opportunity simply does not happen anywhere else.”

Among the other high profile regattas on Red’s competition schedule for the summer include the Warsash Big Boat Series, RORC Cervantes Trophy, RORC IRC Nationals, Round the Island Race, Cork Week and Cowes Week.

To discuss potential charters contact David Atkinson at david.atkinson@rya.org.uk or call 023 80 604166.

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